Animal Rights Collective Blog


Victory! North Carolina Lab Surrenders Animal Testing Victims by christine

Professional Laboratory and Research Services Undercover Investigation

Investigation Report from PETA

Investigation Victory: Just one week after PETA released the results of its shocking undercover investigation of North Carolina–based contract animal testing facility Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS) and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), PLRS is surrendering nearly 200 dogs and dozens of cats and shutting its doors for good. This is a monumental victory and the first time that a laboratory has been forced to surrender animals and close under pressure on the heels of a PETA investigation and while facing a formal USDA investigation.

For nine months, a PETA investigator worked undercover inside the filthy, deafeningly loud kennels of Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS). Inconspicuously tucked away in rural North Carolina, PLRS takes money from huge pharmaceutical companies to test insecticides and other chemicals used in companion animal products. Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Schering-Plough (now Merck), Sergeant’s, Wellmark, and Merial, the maker of Frontline flea and tick products, are some of the corporations that have paid PLRS to force-feed experimental compounds to dogs and cats and smear chemicals onto the animals’ skin.

PETA’s investigator found that toxicity tests were just part of what the animals endured. Laboratory workers appeared to despise the animals in their care—they yelled and cursed at cowering dogs and cats, calling them “asshole,” “motherfuckers,” and “bitch”; used pressure hoses to spray water—as well as bleach and other harsh chemicals—on them; and dragged dogs through the facility who were too frightened to walk.

Video evidence shows that terrified cats were pulled from cages by the scruff of the neck while workers screamed in their faces and that a cat was viciously slammed into the metal door of a cage. One worker grabbed a cat and pushed him against a chain-link fence. When the cat fearfully clutched at the fencing with his claws, the worker jerked him off the fencing, saying she hoped that the cat’s nails had been ripped out.

Dogs at PLRS may spend years in cages, either to be used repeatedly in tests or to be kept infested with worms for some future study. They are just like the dogs we share our homes with, but they live day in, day out without exercise or enrichment, companionship, a scratch behind the ears, or even a kind word from the only people they ever see.

Many dogs had raw, oozing sores from being forced to live constantly on wet concrete, often in pools of their own urine and waste. Workers didn’t even move the dogs when they pressure-sprayed the runs, frightening the animals; soaking them with water, bleach, and soap; and exposing already painful sores to harsh, irritating chemicals.

PLRS didn’t bother to keep a veterinarian on staff. Instead, it chose to bring its primary veterinarian in for only one hour most weeks. Animals endured bloody feces, worm infestations, oozing sores, abscessed teeth, hematomas, and pus- and blood-filled infections without receiving adequate veterinary examinations and treatment. Sometimes, the conditions were ineffectively handled by workers who had no credentials or veterinary training.

After a supervisor gave one dog an anesthetic that was past its expiration date (and likely administered too little of it), the supervisor pulled out one of the animal’s teeth with a pair of pliers. The dog trembled and twitched in apparent pain, and the supervisor continued with the procedure despite the dog’s obvious reaction. Workers repeatedly cut into one dog’s tender, blood-filled ear, draining blood and pus but never treating the underlying cause of the dog’s suffering and apparently causing the ear to become infected.

Dogs were intentionally subjected to worm infestations for tests, but conditions were so sloppy that dogs who weren’t supposed to be part of the study also became infested and were then left untreated.

In one test commissioned by a corporation whose products are sold in grocery and drug stores nationwide, a chemical was applied to the necks of 57 cats. The cats immediately suffered seizures, foamed at the mouth, lost vision, and bled from their noses. Despite this, the substance was put on the cats a second time the very same day.

To cut costs, PLRS killed nearly 100 cats, rabbits, and dogs. The company had decided that some of these animals’ six daily cups of food were too expensive.

Federal oversight of horrendous facilities such as PLRS is virtually nonexistent. In preparation for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector’s annual visit, which PLRS staff knew to expect in June or July, PLRS employees painted over the rusty surfaces that the USDA had warned them about the previous year and reported that ailing animals had conditions that might merit veterinary care—which the facility’s attending veterinarian reportedly advised she would not provide—so that PLRS staff would be “covered” from blame should the inspector inquire about the animals’ condition. The inspector’s 2010 visit to PLRS, which housed approximately 400 animals at the time, lasted two hours and 15 minutes.

PETA has filed complaints with federal and state agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and local law-enforcement authorities.

UPDATE: North Carolina Lab Animals Saved! Charge Their Abusers

They are safe. Nearly 200 dogs and 54 cats — tortured by lab staff who kicked, slammed and dragged them — now have a chance to heal.

9/18/10 – KINSHIP CIRCLE

Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. (PLRS) in Corapeake, North Carolina was forced to close and surrender its “test subjects” after a PETA investigation uncovered diseased and wounded dogs, cats and rabbits. Over 9 months, PETA’s investigator recorded staff brutally mishandling terrified animals. One worker used pliers to wrench teeth from a frantic dog. Another tried to pull out a cat’s claws.

PLRS closure is a portal to the routine abuse that occurs in ALL labs. Animal experimentation itself causes creatures to convulse, bleed, stagger, die. Imagine being overdosed with poison or cut apart while restrained. There isn’t one animal experiment today that couldn’t be replaced by non-animal research tools. But animals come cheap and old habits die hard.

ALL PHOTOS show staff at Beagles to the Rescue (VA) taking in abused dogs from the now shuttered PLRS research lab. SEE NEWS VIDEO.

But for PLRS animals, there is hope. Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) — working with about 12 regional shelters/rescues — have taken in the lab’s surviving dogs and cats. At this time, Kinship Circle does not know the fate of any rabbits. We do know that PLRS killed rabbits upon conclusion of experiments.

Shelters & Rescues with dogs and cats from PLRS:

**  Most animals will be in quarantine and rehab before available for adoption/foster.
**  Contact shelters below to inquire about animals rescued from PLRS.
**  Check shelter websites for updates, as information is limited right now.
**  As of 9/18/10: No mention of where rescued cats went, only the dogs.

Associated Humane Societies (NJ) — 973-824-7080
http://www.ahscares.org/

Beagles to the Rescue (VA) — 757-204-4411 (4 beagle girls)
http://www.beaglestotherescue.org/home.cfm

Carteret County Humane Society (NC) — 252-247-7744
http://www.cchsshelter.com/

Elizabeth City SPCA (VA) — 757-344-3033 (15 PLRS animals)
To adopt or foster these animals, contact Sabrenna or John at 252-338-5222
http://www.spcaofnenc.org/

Guilford County Animal Shelter — 336-297-5020
http://www.adoptshelterpets.org/

In Dogs We Trust (FL) — 561-400-7732 (18 PLRS dogs)
http://www.floridadogadoption.com/
Nicole@trustthedog.com

Norfolk SPCA (VA) — 757-622-3319 (38 PLRS dogs)
http://www.norfolkspca.com/

Triangle Beach Rescue (NC) — info@tribeagles.org
http://www.tribeagles.org

Virginia Beach SPCA (VA) — 757-427-0070
http://vbspca.com/modules/vbspcainfo/category.php?categoryid=1

Wake County Animal Control/Adopt. Ctr. (NC) — 919-212-7387
http://www.wakegov.com/pets/shelter/default.htm
animalcontrol@wakegov.com

Wake County SPCA (NC) — 919-772-2326
http://www.spcawake.org/site/PageServer

Washington Animal Rescue League (DC) — 202-726-2556
http://www.warl.org
adopt@warl.org



Reportback: “Meat Your Meat” Pay-Per-View 9/16/2010 by christine
September 21, 2010, 12:12 pm
Filed under: AR Event, ARC Events, Local Events, Reportback, Video | Tags: , ,

ARC and Compassion for Animals (CfA) screened “Meat Your Meat” to GMU community members on September 16th, 2010. Students, staff, and

faculty could earn $1 for watching a 4 minute segment of the film which documents the suffering and exploitation of animals endured as standard practices at factory farming facilities and slaughterhouses. We encourage everyone that partakes in meat consumption and animal exploitation to educate themselves about what they are endorsing and to question if these choices are truly aligned with their morals. 36 people watched the full segment, and 5 people refused to take the dollar.

The next PPV at GMU is on Thursday, October 7, from 3-7pm at JC kiosk B!

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Watch “Meet Your Meat!”



Over 100 GMU Workers Strike by christine

from the SEIU blog | by Ashley Wood

Sodexo’s most recent retaliation against workers was the last straw at George Mason University. On Wednesday, more than 100 food service workers at GMU went on strike to protest the unsafe working conditions they’ve experienced while on the job. The workers say Sodexo has responded to their demands with retaliation instead of providing the proper protective equipment.

Last week, when workers and students at the Virginia school delivered a petition to Sodexo management raising health and safety concerns, Sodexo responded by changing the assignment of one worker leader of the delegation so she would no longer have contact with students.

Yesterday, Sodexo workers stood up for their rights at GMU and voted to walk off the job to protest workplace injuries and Sodexo’s attempt to intimidate them.

“We are tired of getting burned and injured on the job,” said Christela Moreno, who has worked since 1989 for Sodexo. “We want safe jobs and we want our union, but when we speak up, management tries to scare and intimidate us. That’s why we’re on strike.”

Workers have already protested Sodexo last spring at GMU, after facing intimidation for supporting a union. And wages for GMU workers are so low, most of them cannot afford Sodexo’s expensive health insurance – making safe jobs and union contracts necessary to improve their lives.

GMUStudents_SDXStrikeSept2010.jpgSince 2000, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and various state workplace safety agencies have found 160 violations and levied penalties of more than $200,000 against Sodexo for health and safety problems at its various worksites across the country.

“Sodexo workers shouldn’t go to work fearing that they might end up in the hospital,” said Jaime Contreras, 32BJ District Director. “Last year the company made $1 billion in profits, and workers are simply asking the company to provide good jobs with basic safety protections.”



Another Orca Death at SeaWorld by christine
September 9, 2010, 11:33 pm
Filed under: AR News, News, Use Your Voice! | Tags: , , , ,

Yet another captive orca, Sumar, has died in captivity, once again at a SeaWorld faciity in San Diego. Sumar, the son of Tilikum, the orca who killed trainer Dawn Brancheau earlier this year, died after being lethargic the day before he passed away. SeaWorld uses Tilikum as one of their prime studs, as if they’re running a “whale mill” like one would run a puppy mill. Zoe magazine writes that, “According to SeaWorld, Sumar, an orca dolphin at the entertainment company’s San Diego seaquarium, began acting lethargic on Monday and was given antibiotics. Next day, he was dead.”

SeaWorld calls these sorts of death “mysterious” and “unexpected.” There’s nothing mysterious and unexpected about the death of animals who are exploited for the big business of aquariums. They’re continually stressed and treated as if they’re robots, there to entertain the public by performing stupid and unnatural tricks and to make babies who are transferred here and there at the whim of the facilities that continue to exploit them with no regard for the natural social relationships these animals develop and maintain for long periods of time.

Please write SeaWorld and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and urge them to place killer whales and other cetaceans in sanctuaries where they can live out their lives in dignity. Shame on SeaWorld for irresponsibly continuing to exploit orcas and other sentient beings for filling their own pockets.



Victory: EU Bans Testing on Great Apes! by christine
September 9, 2010, 11:23 pm
Filed under: AR News, News, Video | Tags: , ,

From The PETA Files:

There’s great news from across the Atlantic, where the European Union has voted to ban the use of great apes in experiments. The new legislation also places significant restrictions on testing on other primates and requires that non-animal methods be used whenever possible.

This is an exciting development—but it also raises a question: In light of this humane advance, how can the U.S. government justify its plans to transfer more than 200 “retired” chimpanzees from a facility in New Mexico to a research laboratory in Texas, where they’ll probably be forced to endure cruel experiments?

There is no excuse for it, of course, so please help us persuade officials to permanently retire the chimpanzees to a sanctuary.

Posted by Jeff Mackey

New EU Rules on Animal Testing Ban Use of Apes

from AFP

STRASBOURG — Europe banned the use of great apes in animal testing Wednesday as part of drastically tightened rules to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research.

After two years of heated debate on how to protect animal welfare without scuppering scientific research, the new limits, updating regulations from 1986, were adopted by the European Parliament despite objections from Green MEPs.

Under the new legislations, experiments on great apes such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans are to be banned and “strict” restrictions set on the use of primates in general.

Members of the 27-nation bloc, who are given two years to comply with the rules, also need “to ensure that whenever an alternative method is available, this is used instead of animal testing.”

And they must work at “reducing levels of pain inflicted on animals.”

Proponents of the abolition of animal testing objected that the new rules failed to go far enough.

“Animals will still be used as guinea pigs,” said the Greens in a statement. “They will still suffer pain.”

“It is possible to reduce the number of animals used for science without hindering research,” added Belgian Green Isballe Durant.

But Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli dubbed it “a good compromise on a difficult topic.”

“Today we have the chance to bring the EU to the forefront by caring for animals and protecting science,” he said.

Other MEPs said the demands of scientific research came over and above animal welfare.

“An animal’s an animal and a human being’s a human being,” said Italian conservative Herbert Dorfmann.

“Medical progress is crucial to humanity and unfortunately, to achieve this progress there must be animal testing.”

The legislation notably allows the use of primates in testing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, cancer or Parkinson’s disease if there is scientific evidence that the research cannot be achieved without using these species.

To avoid repeated suffering by an animal, it lists different categories of pain that may be inflicted during a test (non-recovery, mild, moderate or severe) and proposes that the same animals be reused only if the pain is classed as “moderate,” and provided a vet is consulted.

At the moment some 12 million animals are used each year in scientific experiments in the EU.

The legislation calls for government inspections on a third of national laboratories that use animals, some of which must be unannounced.

Last year the European Union banned the testing of animals for developing cosmetics, except for long-running toxicology tests which will be banned altogether in 2013.



Reportback: Save the Frogs Protest of Frog Consumption by christine

On Saturday, September 4th protestors of all ages took to the streets to demand that Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Cafe stop selling frog legs. Not only does the consumption of frogs deplete wild populations, but it also causes the spread of infectious diseases and invasive species. Currently, one-third of amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and over 200 species have disappeared in recent years.

From the Save the Frogs website:

“Supporters of the environmental conservation group Save The Frogs congregated outside the Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Café in Arlington, Virginia yesterday to protest the restaurant chain’s sales of frog legs. Far from your ordinary protest though, the majority of the protesters were under the age of 13. Eight middle and elementary school students joined two George Mason University students and five others to raise awareness of the rapid disappearance of frog species worldwide — and the Rio Grande Café’s contribution to the problem. This was the largest protest in defense of frog populations in the planet’s history, and signifies a growing movement to save the world’s remaining amphibian species, one-third of which are on the verge of extinction.

These farm-raised bullfrogs are known carriers of a deadly skin disease called chytridiomycosis, which has caused the extinction of up to 100 amphibian species worldwide. As well as spreading the deadly chytrid fungus, the bullfrogs are harmful invasive species. Being farmed around the world has allowed them to invade 15 countries outside their native range, where they eat native frogs and other wildlife, damaging ecosystems.

Amphibians are faced with an onslaught of environmental problems, including climate change, pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.”

Learn more and sign the petition!



Updates on the Recall: Wright County Egg’s Filthy Conditions by christine
September 9, 2010, 10:22 pm
Filed under: AR Alert, AR News, News, Vegan | Tags: , , ,

Chickens in battery cages

After a half billion bad eggs get released, the FDA reveals filthy conditions of Wright County Egg

BY Tom Philpott (from Grist) | 31 AUG 2010 4:07 PM

There’s nothing like a good salmonella outbreak to inspire FDA inspectors to deliver blunt, graphic reports from inside the industrial food system. When future historians marvel at the fetid, festering underbelly of our food culture, they will relish these post-facto dispatches from the biohazardous front.

Back in 2009, a company called Peanut Corporation of America sparked a massive recall involving 4,000 products put out by 360 companies. Nearly 700 people fell ill, half of them children, and nine died. The cause: salmonella-tainted peanut paste. The FDA’s after-the-fact investigation [PDF] of the massive Georgia plant makes riveting reading (for the strong of stomach): moldy water seeping directly into “finished product”; cockroaches running around; processing machinery that routinely went uncleaned, etc. Most shocking of all, the company had several times detected the presence of salmonella in finished product based on its own testing — and sent it out anyway.

Well, the FDA has now competed its post-event investigation of the Iowa egg factories that spawned 550 million salmonella-tainted eggs and have sickened at least 1,500 people. The factories in question are run by Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, two of the 10 largest egg producers in the United States. Again, at least for connoisseurs of the grotesque, the results make a fantastic read.

Turns out, the Wright County and Hillandale egg operations, whose products end up on supermarket shelves across the country, are salmonella-ridden, dilapidated hovels characterized by rodent infestations, flies, and, everywhere, feces —  both from the laying hens themselves and from wild birds scrounging for free feed.

There are some choice images in the report. To wit, “Dark liquid, which appeared to be manure, was observed seeping through the concrete foundation to the outside of the laying houses at the following locations.” It goes on to name 10 different laying houses, each of which contained hundreds of thousands of birds.

My favorite image of all is this one:

Uncaged birds (chickens having escaped) were observed in the egg laying operation in contact with the egg laying birds … The uncaged birds were using the manure, which was approximately 8 feet high, to access the egg laying area.

If I am envisioning the scene correctly, escaped hens had climbed atop vast shit mounds in order to be high enough to get their beaks into the feed within the cages.

Cross-contamination between the laying houses was evidently rife. “Employees working within the houses did not wear or change protective clothing when moving from house to house,” the FDA inspectors report. “An employee at Layer 6 House 3 was observed walking out of House 3 with a metal scraper and into House 2 without changing protective clothing and without sanitizing equipment between the houses.”

Industrial agriculture is often criticized for wiping out biodiversity — species, whether corn or hens, are raised in vast monocrops. But at Wright County Egg, biodiversity of a certain kind thrived. Inspectors observed between “two and five mice” scampering around at no fewer than 12 laying houses. “Live and dead flies too numerous to count” appeared at 19 houses; and at one house, “live and dead maggots too numerous to count were observed on the manure pit floor.”

If you’re worried about avian flu, you won’t be impressed with Wright County Egg’s efforts to keep wild birds from mingling with laying hens. “Non-chicken feathers” were observed inside one laying house. In another three, “wild birds were observed flying inside.” In an “air vent where the screening was damaged,” pigeons roosted. Gaps and holes in the structures of the laying houses, large enough to let in rodents and wilds birds, are evidently a fact of life. The report complains of “holes in exterior siding, missing siding, holes and/or gaps in the concrete foundation, and air vent screens either missing or damaged.”

Then there’s the whole topic of the facility’s feed mill, which the FDA has fingered as the likely source of the salmonella. Here, the sins of Wright County Egg’s management seemed to combine sinisterly into a virtual incubation house for pathogens. Atop vast mounds of corn destined for the mill, “birds were observed roosting and flying.” Wild birds were so at home that “nesting material was observed in the feed mill … ingredient storage and truck-filling areas.”

And when the inspectors took swabs in and around the mill, they routinely found salmonella. They also found it in the manure mounds building up under the laying houses.

One thing the report doesn’t comment on is the environmental impact of Wright County Egg’s manure management. If the company did such a rotten job keeping its hens from coming into contact with shit, what kind of job did it do keeping that salmonella-rich stuff from seeping into surrounding streams?

At any rate, the conditions described by FDA are wretched and can be counted on to produce biological menaces, salmonella outbreaks counting as just a minor example. The prevailing conditions there will be largely read as the villainy of a single man, Wright County Eggs’ owner, Jack Decoster. Now, Decoster is no doubt quite a piece of work; but as I will show in a later post, his brand of doing business is really the logical outgrowth of a food system that rewards cost-cutting above all else.

What’s the answer? GO VEGAN!

Egg Recall Action Alert: What’s inside your egg carton (aside from salmonella)?

From COK.net

As the U.S. faces the largest egg recall in our nation’s history—more than half a billion eggs have been recalled due to the risk of Salmonella—the hard-boiled truth of egg production is starting to make headlines. All the eggs in question were produced on large-scale egg factory farms where hens are crammed inside tiny wire cages that are so restrictive, they can barely even move.

Sadly, such intensive confinement, which causes tremendous animal suffering, is not only standard practice in the egg industry, but studies suggest that keeping hens in cages increases the risk of Salmonella infection in hens, their eggs, and consumers who eat eggs from caged birds. Read the “Food Safety and Cage Egg Production”report by the Humane Society of the United States for more details.

Not only is the egg industry cruelly confining more than 250 million laying hens and putting consumers at health risk, it’s also deceiving those consumers through the rampant use of misleading labels and images on cartons.

To many consumers’ surprise, there are no federal regulations governing the use of animal welfare claims on egg cartons, including “naturally-raised” and “free-range,” enabling producers to mislead consumers with false or exaggerated claims, such as images of hens freely roaming around outside—even if those eggs come from hens forced to spend their lives in misery inside wire battery cages.

In 2006, Compassion Over Killing filed a federal rule-making petition with the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to mandate egg-production labeling on egg cartons, including the clear identification of “eggs from caged hens.” Similar consumer protection practices are already in place throughout the European Union and in Australia. Consumers—and hens—in the U.S. deserve the same.

ACT NOW: Read more about this Truth in Egg Labeling effort and contact the FDA today.